Kevin Pietersen: Love is lost
Good-looking young man in your Crimean shirt
with your willow shield up,
as if to face spears, you're inside their men's Law,
one church they do obey;
they'll remember you were here."
- Les Murray
As Kevin Pietersen was playing his last innings in the BBL, the Australian crowd bid him farewell poignantly. A heart-rendering sound of "bon voyage" reverberated through the whole stadium as he was walking off to the pavilion. Hitherto; he gave the confirmation that 2018 will be his last year as a player.
The elite "KP" we know today, had very humble origins as a refugee looking to make his stride forward; it all began from here:
Becoming a flamboyant Englishman
After facing repeated failures to make it big in his own country, this South African born player, decided to try his luck in rustic England, where he managed to score heavily for Nottinghamshire. Within a span of four years, this strong-willed player made himself eligible to play for England, thanks to his English mother. He played exceptionally well in his early tours against Zimbabwe and his own country South Africa. His unique style of playing and his fierceness gave him an edge over others. He had this tremendous self-confidence and willingness to do the impossible.
The brazen lad from Pietermaritzburg, Natal - with multitude color streaks on his mane - was yet to make the announcement on the World stage. The World was soon to discover the brilliance of this phenomenal lad.
He earned his maiden call-up for the Test side against Australia in the 2005 Ashes, on home soil. That was the time when his flame burned the brightest and made him the superstar that he is today.
He had inked his loyalty to England by getting the 'three lions' tattoo on his left arm. That is when the South African became a true Englishman.
Ashes 2005: Pronouncement of Kevin Pietersen
While playing his debut Test for England against Australia at Lord's, Pietersen made 57 & 64 — announcing his arrival in the Test arena. In the 5th Test at the Oval, he played a match-saving dazzling innings of 158 — it was the stuff of legends! — Which resulted in England reclaiming the Ashes urn after 18 years on home soil.
In that very match, the cricketing fraternity witnessed Kevin Pietersen's bravado. On the last day of that Test match, Brett Lee bounced him up at sheer pace. However, he survived against both Lee and the threatening Shane Warne.
During the lunch break on the 5th day, KP asked Vaughan what the best way to go about the business of saving the game was. "Your way," said Vaughan. Eventually, Pietersen took on the Aussies alright; he played aggressively. One stroke, from a ball over 90 mile-per-hour, came dead straight back at the stumps, almost knocking Lee off. Before perishing, KP made sure that the urn was theirs after all the drama and battle between the two enemies.
No love lost relationship with the ECB
Trouble in paradise between Kevin Pietersen and England & Wales Cricket Board was not hidden from anyone. We can describe their relationship as a marriage of convenience — it was fruitful while it lasted, but indeed there was no love. Probably he was too honest and did not have the political skill to hide the strength of his sentiments.
In order to rebuild the team after the humiliating whitewash in Ashes 2013/14, England management made Pietersen the scapegoat and in spite of him being the leading run-scorer for England, in the aftermath of the campaign, there was no place for KP in the side. The management drew a line over his International career which turned out to be of no good for both the parties and left Pietersen to play franchise cricket only.
The Genius of Kevin Pietersen
His approach of taking the bull by the horn is admirable. He is different from everybody else. There is something crazy and so alternative about him that gave a new dimension on how the game can be played. He aggregated 8181 runs in Tests and 4440 runs in ODIs bringing in a sorely missing X-factor to English cricket.
Kevin Pietersen played the game with conviction, flair and swag. Every time he walked out onto the cricket field, he would make his presence felt. Many of us still miss him in English colors. After all these glorious achievements, he has certainly guaranteed his own place in the hall of fame among the many greats in English cricket.